TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent the week talking about how they wanted to show their home crowd something positive.
They did -- somewhat. They lost, 20-14, to the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium. The loss was deceiving because most of Miami's points came after the starters for both teams left the game. But the Bucs held a 7-3 lead before the starters left the game.
The starters turned in a much better performance than they did in their preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The first team showed exactly what a team coached by Lovie Smith is expected to look like. The formula is to play great defense and be opportunistic on offense. That's precisely what the Bucs did at the start of the second quarter.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill and forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Michael Johnson. The offense quickly followed that up with a touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Vincent Jackson.
"It was more of what we need to start looking like," McCown said.
The backups didn't play well on either side of the ball. But at least the starters gave fans some hope.
Some other observations:
It's not quite what Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles do, but I like the fact the Bucs are using the no-huddle offense. Coaches and players had been talking about an "up-tempo" offense since organized team activities began in the spring. Now, we're starting to see what they were talking about. I don't think the Bucs will use the no-huddle offense all the time, but they'll use it from time to time to shake things up.
The starting offensive line took a lot of criticism (every bit of it justified) last week. But the line bounced back with a much better performance. Patrick Omameh and Oniel Cousins were the starting guards, but the Bucs still may continue to rotate guards before deciding on the starters.
There's been some question about whether the Bucs will even carry a fullback on their roster. But it's looking more and more like they will. Jorvorskie Lane appears to be playing his way into a roster spot. Lane had a nice block on a run by Doug Martin and also caught a pass for 14 yards.
Rookie Mike Evans was well on his way to showing why the Bucs used a first-round pick on him. Evans caught a pass from Mike Glennon in the second quarter and seemed to be headed for a touchdown. But Evans had the ball knocked loose at the 1-yard line. That resulted in a touchback for Miami.
I'm not sure what to make of the fact that Luke Stocker got the start at tight end. Stocker has appeared to be behind Brandon Myers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Timothy Wright on the depth chart. I was thinking Stocker might not make the roster, but maybe this was a sign that he's in the Bucs' plans.